Saturday, June 25, 2022

Bengal folk music artist revives dying art form in Jharkhand

Ranchi, June 19: A Bengal-based  young national award recipient in Jhumur (folk song in Jharkhand-Bengal bordering areas) is trying to revive the near-extinct tribal art form of Sohrai in Jharkhand districts bordering Bengal.

The Jhargram based Madhushree Hatial, who was conferred Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar (instituted by Sangeet Natak Akademi) in folk music category for Jhumur in 2018 through her trust Moromiya (Bengali word for mysticism) has been able to inculcate interest for Sohrai paintings among youths in areas of Chakulia and Baharagora (bordering West Midnapore in Bengal), Seraikela-Kharswan  (bordering Purulia district of Bengal) in addition to villages in Bengal.

Madhushree paints Sohrai art on clay walls at a village in Bahragora in Jharkhand. 

“I was inspired by my father Suniti Kumar Hatial (a retired government school teacher in Jhargram) who used to devote time to preserve tribal art and culture in bordering areas of Jharkhand (then Bihar). I have tried to do the same in a bit more structured manner through my trust Moromiya aiming to promote folk, tribal arts and ancient culture,” said Madhushree who is a music professor in R.N.L Khan Women’s College in Jhargram.

With the help of her 10-member trust in the last five years she has managed to create a rapport among the villages of Chakulia and Baharagora block of East Singhbhum district and also in Chandil sub-division in Seraikela-Kharsawan district. 

Madhushree (centre) teaches about ancient folklore to children in January at Chakulia in Jharkhand. 

“In the last five years, there is a visible change now youths and even women have started painting their pucca and clay houses with Bandhna Sohrai paintings (mural consisting of geometrical designs, animals, birds, leaves and flowers). Our efforts has started bearing fruits and they have started using traditionally prepared natural colours to beautify their homes,” said Madhushree.

The members of the trust have been teaching the tribal art form to the women and youths during paddy harvest seasons and now the village women and youths can be seen painting the same on their houses.

“During the Covid-induced school closure in the last two years, we have tried to teach the primary school children of bordering villages in Jharkhand about ancient folklores in panchtantra and Hitopdesh and imbibe interest towards ancient culture so that they are not only dependent on western lessons provided in mobile through internet,” said Madhushree.

Fermented Mahua kept at a village in Chakulia in Jharkhand. 

Their trust has also tried to teach women to prepare sanitisers and pickles from Mahua (brew prepared by fermenting mahua flowers found in villages of Jharkhand and Bengal).

“Usually the women used to prepare mahua which was consumed by locals and get intoxicated. We decided to teach women to prepare other items too from mahua flowers like pickles and sanitizers so that they can earn livelihood too without making people addicted to intoxicated drinks,’ added Madhushree who is also a proficient chhau dancer.

She has also conducted seminars and workshops in Jharkhand’s capital Ranchi and Jamshedpur on revival of ancient art-culture.


  1. Bhavageete, also spelt as Bhavageethe, is a form of expressionist poetry and light music. Literally meaning “emotion poetry”, Bhavageete is a significant part of Indian music, which has represented the devotional and emotional facet of the Indians whilst representing the aura of the philosophy of Hinduism in the truest sense of the term. The emotional poetry sung in this genre pertains to themes of Love, Nature, Philosophy etc. Not much different from Ghazals, the genre involves expressing the deep desire of meeting the ultimate. Experiencing the “Omnipresence of the Omnipotent” is articulated amidst light music and perfect verbiage. The philosophy of life is all united with the strings of Bhavageete, which is a lot more than just being a particular form of expressionist poetry.

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